Sunday, August 19, 2012

Old San Juan, Puerto Rico - Part Dos

Where did I leave off? I showed you some of the sights and such of San Juan in part uno. For the most part, we explored the surrounding areas of our hotels for a few days, did a little beach lounging, soaked up some sun by the pool, and dined on frozen mojitos and pina coladas. After we had had enough sun, we chose a beautiful day to take a short bus ride into Old San Juan (more on its history here and here).

Upon arriving in Old San Juan, we departed the bus stop (seen on the left) and our first sight was this large enormous cruise ship. Old San Juan is still a very active port for ships and such. 

I've never been on a cruise ship so I'm not sure how large they can get, but I'm pretty sure this dude right here is a big'un. When I was in New Orleans, their mall was on the Port of New Orleans. Cruise ships would dock, patrons would get off and sight see then hop back on. Either way, I don't remember those cruise ships being as large as this one.

This is a US Courthouse and Post Office - much prettier than ours.

The buildings in Old San Juan reminded me of a cross between those in Charleston, SC and New Orleans, LA. Beautiful. All of them.

Not sure of the significance of this giraffe, but it was cute nonetheless so my friend posed with it. (After some searching, I found this.)

Making our way around Old San Juan towards some of the parks/plazas.

I really love this photo. The green you see is the corner of one building and the yellow is another building in the background. The buildings are so imperfect due to their age and history. The sign, "Calle Del Recinto Sur" was one of many markers on all of the buildings. Rather than free standing street signs, these signs indicated what street you were on. Took us a minute to figure that out.

Looking down on Paseo de la Princesa.

So Puerto Rico has a lot of pigeons. A lot. They aren't like the gross ones you see in NYC. These are actually quite beautiful.

After walking for a bit, we made it to Bastion de las Palmas de San Jose - a portion of guarded wall that surrounds the city.

First lizard we saw!

This building was constructed in 1923 and the tile work is beyond words.

We kept walking and found Capilla Del Santo Cristo de la Salud otherwise known as Cristo Chapel outside Parque de las Palomas - the Pigeon Park. 

Here's Parque de las Palomas, known as the Pigeon Park. Why would it be called that?

Probably because it's home to lots millions of pigeons. If you look closely you can see their beards are irridescent shades of purple and teal. This makes them different than NYC pigeons - at least to me. I'm ridding the idea that they probably still carry disease haha.

This tree in the Pigeon Park is ancient. And beautiful. I could look at it for days.

Here's where things started getting fishy. I was with three girlfriends on this trip. One of them dislikes hates birds. She was standing behind me as far as she could from the pigeons. The other two were with the man you see in the picture. He offered my one girlfriend some feed for the pigeons. He placed it in her hand, and her instinct was to toss it (like you've seen in Home Alone II - Lost in New York). He insisted she keep it in her hand and that the pigeons would come to her.

Well they did. They came right to her.

After the traumatizing experience it was only natural to make sure they weren't covered in pigeon poo.

Take note that the cobblestones here are a beautiful shade of blue.

Everyday it rains for a little bit in Puerto Rico. It could be five minutes or an hour. We got a brief shower after the pigeon incident, and the streets sparkled like blue gems.

We ventured farther into the Pigeon Park and found little homes for all the pigeons.

There were also little bronze shoes everywhere.

I was standing under a tree taking this little guy's picture, when my girlfriend tapped me and told me to look up. There were hundreds of them everywhere! (No photos because it started raining again.)

If you look closely you'll see another little friend.

I snapped his picture and then realized he had a friend coming to play. Little did we know the USDA would be checking our bags for all sorts of bugs and flowers before going back to the states.

The foliage is gorgeous in Puerto Rico.

We left the Pigeon Park and found this goldmine. A couple from the states moved to Puerto Rico and opened up this shop that sells beautiful paintings, festival masks, and Three Kings art.

Here's where I realized many of the buildings looked like those in New Orleans.

We started making our way to the fort when we found this.

The birthplace of the Pina Colada!

So of course we had one!

The courtyard inside of Baracchina's.

Lizards weren't in short supply.

After hydrating with rum, we pushed onward to the fort. Walking the streets of Old San Juan is sensory overload. I noticed that their homes either had beautiful, ornate front doors, or they had open-air, thick, wrought iron swinging doors. 

The wrought iron doesn't provide a lot of privacy because people like me want to see your courtyard and renovations :) Isn't that wood to die for? 

Walked right into the shopping hub of Old San Juan. Found this jewelry store named Family Jewels. Couldn't resist ;)

I found this beautiful door and realized after the fact that it was the front door to the man's home that owns The Butterfly People. This shop, located to the right of this door, specializes in raising tropical butterflies and preserving them in delicate boxes as pieces of art. I couldn't take any pictures of the butterflies for obvious reasons, but the shop was absolutely gorgeous.

The courtyard above The Butterfly People.

Saw this beauty offering rides outside the shop.

A luxury watch shop in the shopping district.

The man with the umbrella street cart was using a machete to slice off the top of coconuts! Then he poured in a little rum, added a straw, and sent you on your way.

Found The Cigar House at The Doll House - a cigar store that offers more cigars than anyone in the Caribbean. I don't smoke. Ever. A good cigar can not be passed up though. I purchased a few Puerto Rican ones, as well as a few Dominican ones. Some were for myself, while some were souvenirs for friends.

Various flavors of tobacco for making your own.

We left The Cigar House and realized the middle of the day was approaching. We had to trek up this hill to make it closer to the fort.

Tired yet? I'll save the fort for part tres.


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